Over the last two years Dwight Howard put the Orlando Magic and their fans through an extended ordeal in he reversed his decision on staying or leaving multiple times. On Friday it was reported that the Magic would not attempt to re-sign the star center in free agency. This is the right decision for the team who must continue to move on.
Things are going considerably well for the Magic right now. Although they are 12-21, many of the young players acquired in the blockbuster deal over the summer have proven to be quality NBA players and some, such as Nikola Vucevic, have shown the potential to be stars. While many criticized new general manager Rob Hennigan over the trade, it now appears he made some wise decisions.
In 1996 Shaquille O’Neal made a similar decision to leave Orlando for the west coast leaving the unaware team in disarray. The Magic tried to pick up the pieces then and continue forward following a 60 win season. That plan ended with a player revolt against head coach Brian Hill led by star point guard Anfernee Hardaway after which he immediately left as well. That choice to attempt to continue forward rather than immediately rebuild cost the Magic five years of futility.
It’s as if the Magic need him financially either. After O’Neil bolted, fan interest dwindled and the team struggled financially to the point where they were nearly sold. It took Doc Rivers’ “heart and hustle” team in the 1999-2000 season to bring them back into the Orlando Arena. But that hasn’t been the case this time around. Thirteen years after that team brought pride back into the franchise the fans are sticking by the team unlike any period before. Many expecting low attendance as fans commiserated about the loss of their star but instead the Magic have averaged almost 18,000 fans a game for a team that was expected to finish near the bottom of the league.
The Magic are making the right decision by continuing on and attempting to forget about Howard. As with O’Neil, Howard will always be public enemy number one in central Florida and the Magic should ignore his existence any way possible. Soon a new star will arise and before his decides he’s too big for Orlando the Magic will be back where they were with Howard, maybe even further.